Search

Arsenal star admits defeats at Liverpool, Chelsea and Everton ruined title dream

13:19 29 April 2014

Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge (right) and Arsenal's Per Mertesacker battle for the ball

Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge (right) and Arsenal's Per Mertesacker battle for the ball

PA Wire/Press Association Images

Per Mertesacker admits Arsenal’s slow starts away to top-four rivals “killed” their hopes of maintaining a title challenge throughout the season.

Apart from a brief spell just before Christmas, the Gunners headed the Premier League table for a five-month period between September and February.

But a 5-1 thrashing by Liverpool at Anfield prompted their slide – and further heavy defeats away to Chelsea and Everton tipped Arsene Wenger’s team into a battle just to hold on to fourth place.

Although the Gunners are just one result away from confirming their spot in next season’s Champions League qualifiers, Mertesacker concedes that lessons must be learned before they can harbour serious title ambitions.

“Of course everyone wanted us to get further up [the table], especially the fans,” said the German defender. “We were top of the league for a long time and everyone dreamt about maybe getting the title.

“But it takes more than just to stay at the top until the winter period. I think we couldn’t afford those away games against the big teams, so we didn’t deserve to be in the first three spots.

“That is something for next year that we have to manage much better. I think those away games killed us this year and hopefully we can learn from that.

“We have to learn quickly how to play and how to defend early in those away games, the first 20 to 25 minutes when you go there and they try to get you on the break.

“I think it was very similar in each game – the first 20 minutes we lost some balls in the middle of the park and they got us on the break. That’s something we have to look at next year.”

Despite the disintegration of their title bid, Arsenal have responded well in recent weeks and Monday’s 3-0 win against Newcastle was their third straight victory.

That makes the Gunners firm favourites to finish fourth, a position that could be confirmed even before they face West Brom in their final home game of the season on Sunday (kick-off 1.30pm).

Everton will be unable to catch Wenger’s side if they lose to Manchester City on Saturday, and Mertesacker feels Arsenal’s current form bodes well for their prospects next season.

“We play on Sunday so we have to wait, but we have it in our own hands and we want to secure the fourth spot,” he added. “We just have to think about the next game.

“The possibility to secure Champions League football was another test for us.

“Last year we managed to deal with an even more difficult situation – with 10 games to go, no-one expected us to be in the top four.

“This year, with a couple of injuries, we struggled heavily but we regrouped very well and how we managed this situation was maybe more important than last year.

“Everyone questioned us and our football qualities and I think the way we came back as a team makes us stronger for the future. We have improved a lot and we’re in good shape.”

Latest Hampstead & Highgate Sports News

Yesterday, 08:57

Middlesex hat-trick hero Toby Roland-Jones says the squad were always confident in their ability to become county champions this year.

Fri, 22:30

Mauricio Pochettino says it is important that Tottenham’s players are “desperate” to stay at the club and do not need to be convinced to remain at White Hart Lane.

Fri, 18:46

Middlesex dethroned Yorkshire in a thrilling finish at Lord’s to win their first County Championship title since 1993.

Fri, 13:01

Mauricio Pochettino will today assess the fitness of Danny Rose, Mousa Dembele and Eric Dier ahead of tomorrow’s trip to Middlesbrough – but he admits it might be “a risk” to select his midfield duo at the Riverside Stadium.

Fri, 07:00

In the latest of a series of features casting the spotlight on local football fans, Martin Stephens reveals his favourite player, his most memorable match and the worst moment he has experienced following Wingate & Finchley.

Thu, 22:30

Christian Eriksen says the recent spate of contract renewals at Tottenham shows the players are keen to keep the current squad together for the long term, because they all feel there is “something special to build on” at White Hart Lane.

Thu, 18:33

Tim Bresnan’s unbeaten century kept Yorkshire on course for a hat-trick of County Championship titles – and all but ended Middlesex’s hopes of snatching their crown.

Thu, 15:17

As the dual meaning of the club’s name would suggest, Soccerscool FC is based around twin objectives – developing football skills and having fun.

PROMOTED CONTENT

Interested in purchasing a flat and want to know the rules, rights and regulations as a leaseholder? Or maybe you are already a leaseholder and want to find out more about extending your lease?

Scores of people visited the opening of Composite Door Master’s first public showroom in Hayes at the weekend, where they were treated to a spectacular show by award winning magician, Marc Oberon.

You’ve got cash, you’ve got style and you’ve got a bursting social calendar, but no time. These Crouch End studio suites to rent could be your dream come true.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Most read Hampstead & Highgate sport

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Property Newsletter Sign-up

Get the latest North London property news and features straight to your inbox with our regular newsletter

I am also happy to receive other emails...
Fields marked with a * are mandatory
Email Marketing by e-shot

Competitions

If you’re obsessed with Apple or just love a good gadget, this is a prize that will blow you away! An incredible £3,333 to spend on Apple goodies! How would you like to be the proud new owner of the Apple Watch?

As we grow older it becomes more and more important to have means to travel about safely and quickly. Our friendship groups and families grow and the need to have a car that is not only safe but also fast and big enough for all our needs is ever more important. There are many cars on the market for such needs but none deals with them as efficiently or as neatly as a VW Golf Estate. These cars are build strong, long lasting and spacious for a reason. They cater to the needs of many and are some of the most popular cars currently on the market.

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now